Winter pears, winter gardens and Alcinous


Digitally painted photograph "Winter pears"

I spent a significant slice of time in my childhood (over 4 years) in a very cold clime in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where the first snows of the year begin in September and the last snow of the year is usually the first or second week of June. My mom used to tell people that we had three seasons--Winter, July and August.

When I was 10 years old, we moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area where I was born. It was February, and we exited blizzard conditions in Colorado and entered what I thought was Eden on earth with sunny balmy days and frost-free nights. Daffodils were in bloom, almond trees were laden with pale pink blossoms, and the thrill of spring was in the air.

When I was a 15, we spent another 18 months living in Colorado. Again, I dealt with the cold and the snow. When we moved back to the Bay Area again, I was so grateful.

So many years have passed, but I have never forgotten the contrast between the two worlds I grew up in--Colorado and California's Bay Area.

I have never forgotten how much snow I lived in and through back then. How cold it was. How the world didn't bloom for so many months of the year.

It is why I have an extreme aversion to snow now as an adult. When others are dreaming of a white Christmas I am perfectly happy with my foggy San Francisco Christmas. When I see weather reports of blizzards and snowstorms in other parts of the United States, I shudder. When ski bums and snow bunnies are heading to the slopes in the Sierra Nevadas (only 3-4 hours north of us), I happily stay put in my snowless environs.

Homer spoke of the sublime mythical orchard, Alcinous:
"Therein grow trees, tall and luxuriant, pears and pomegranates and apple-trees with their bright fruit, and sweet figs, and luxuriant olives. Of these the fruit perishes not nor fails in winter or in summer, but lasts throughout the year."
Odyssey vii
Although I do not have a pear tree, I look out at my garden that is partially leafless with deciduous trees and partly lush and green with citrus, rosebushes and palm trees, and I often feel as if I am living in the mythical Alcinous.

The pomegranate is dormant right now, but the lemon tree is full of bright sunny fruit. The plum tree is waiting until spring, but the rosemary and lavender are blooming with periwinkle blue blossoms. The silvery leaves of the olive tree sway in the rain against a backdrop of pink winter roses from the rosebush that I loved back to life and has no name.

My childhood keeps me from ever taking this all for granted.

And in a corner of the garden under the dormant hydrangea, the yellow trumpets of daffodils are heralding the transition from January to February that is coming soon when the almonds will bloom and the pear trees will look like they're covered with snow.... but it won't be the snow that makes it shudder. It will be the delicate white petals of spring.

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  1. Beautiful! The sheen on the pears looks so real and delicious.

  2. Beautiful! The sheen on the pears looks so real and delicious.

  3. Oh, that does sound like paradise!

  4. I love your pears! Makes me what one now. You did an amazing job altering the image.


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